Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It ain't a Cowichan, hipster.

 Words matter. what you call something matters. Otherwise, you will enter The Twilight Zone, and live in an Orwell or Huxley dystopian novel.
If you want credibility as a seller of vintage, then you have to know what you are selling...or at the very least, not purposely misrepresent an item. Just because Hannah Hipster in LA calls her chunky sweater a Cowichan, doesn't make it so...unless Hannah can prooove it.
War is not Peace. And a Mary Maxim sweater is not a Cowichan. And never will be......A Cowichan is a special type of sweater, using a certain kind of wool, and knit by a member of the Cowichan band. Some Cowichans might use a Mary Maxim pattern....but if it ain't done by a Cowichan, it ain't a Cowichan!


So, I love Mary Maxim graphical sweaters...they always tell a story...and they are hand knit. I can't knit, so I admire those who do. I can't walk a tightrope, so I admire those who do.........You get my drift.

Mary Maxim produced charts for knitters to follow while knitting...these became very popular in the 50s and 60s.They are not Cowichan sweaters which are made by members of First Nation tribes... the Cowichan band of Coast Salish. 

When you misidentify a bulky patterned sweater as a Cowichan, without provenance or  proof, or an attached label, then you are wrong, and showing disrespect to a Nation.
Here's what wikipedia has to say............but you can find out more truth of  Cowichan heritage by a simple online search.
"Most knitters collect designs, some of which are passed on through families and friends. Some families have proprietary designs, although this is relatively rare Designs are incorporated only for their artistic appeal; there is no meaning or implication to them.The popularity of Indian-patterned sweaters prompted the Mary Maxim Company, then headquartered in Sifton, Manitoba, to produce graphed commercial patterns, beginning in the 1940s.Ironically, the knitters soon began to collect and use these charts themselves. They continue to retain favourite designs and to make modifications of them. There are, for example, many variations on the eagle theme. Knitters will also create custom patterns, often with no traditional associations. Despite the diversity of patterns, however, experienced knitters and dealers can often identify the maker of a sweater through the particularqualities of design and knitting style that form a kind of personal signature."

There are also Brown Buffalo Canadian sweaters...but back to Mary Maxim...
Welcome to Mary Maxim…
...the largest mail order merchandiser of exclusive needlework and craft kits in North America now offering secure internet ordering on the world wide web. Mary Maxim began with hand knit designs in the early 1950s. Influenced by the beautiful wildlife in North America, Mary Maxim designed bulky outdoor zippered jackets to knit using the first easy-to-follow graph-style charts created. 

Here is a real Cowichan....from vintage clothing seller FastEddiesRetroRags, with
the original "Genuine Cowichan Indian Knit" label-

Authentic SIGNED Vintage 70's COWICHAN INDIAN Cardigan Elk Sweater

 Here's a Mary Maxim pattern from vintage seller, AlwaysMoreRoom

 Vintage 1950's Mary Maxim No 482 Graph Style Knitting Pattern, Outer Space, Children's Cardigan, Sizes 8-10-12

and another.....Mary Maxim from vintage seller, TheJavaShop

 Mary Maxim Vintage Sweater

 LOOOOOONg before the World started in with the UGLY sweater fad of recent years....I have had a love/hate with sweaters. OH yes. When I lived in California I didn't spend much time thinking about sweaters....but in Washington...I wear sweaters all 12 months of the year!!

I hate sweaters.....I love sweaters.........
I hate them because 99.99999% of them are ugly. Like face-thru-a-windshield ugly.
I love them because they can be sexy and have rhinestones.

I look at racks and boxes of sweaters and I think:"I can't believe someone has a job designing this crap."

Therefore, I buy really ugly and really weird sweaters and cut them up or shrink them to make other things from them. It's transformative. It's like Sweater Karma where you go Up the levels of enlightenment....I am a goddess....I control Sweater Lives.